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ORGANIZATION TYPE

Market Rate/Affordable Housing

BARRIER

Training a geographically diverse and dispersed staff of building operators and maintenance staff to identify energy-saving opportunities 

SOLUTION

Created a standardized, mandatory energy efficiency and buildings operations training module

OUTCOME

35% of staff have been trained, energy efficiency conversations have become more common, and energy-saving opportunities are more easily identified

Implementation Model:
Sustainability Training

Overview

Corcoran Management oversees a portfolio of more than 11,000 units of multifamily housing that spans three states, comprising 1.2 million square feet of developed space. Like most property management companies, Corcoran has sought to reduce utility expenses where possible. The company developed a uniform and mandatory training module in 2012 to educate its building and maintenance and management staff on sustainability and energy efficiency. Corcoran chose this model because it aligned with an existing series of administrative training modules that were already familiar to its employees. Additionally, by integrating sustainability into this existing educational program format, it emphasized the importance the company places on sustainable practices.

Since the program’s inception, Corcoran has held six sessions and trained 70 staff members. The results of these sessions have been encouraging and Corcoran is considering instituting an in-house continuing education program—possibly online—to address new technologies and maintenance schedules.

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Policies

To overcome the challenge of working with only two dedicated energy efficiency staff members, Corcoran Management used the following guidelines to develop and implement its Sustainability Training module:

  1. Training sessions are mandatory for all Operations and Maintenance staff members.
  2. Trainings are conducted in small groups (10-15 people) to allow immediate feedback.
  3.  Trainings are held every six weeks, lasting five hours each.
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Process

In developing the energy efficiency training module, Corcoran used real life examples from its existing portfolio to increase the relevance of the materials. The organization also conducted a pilot class for senior property managers and select maintenance managers to gather critical feedback. To deal with the challenge of developing a module that would benefit employees with varying levels of technical expertise, and to ensure that all employees would be able to engage with the material, Corcoran limited the session’s technical content and supplemented it with outside materials. 

Corcoran decided to limit each five-hour session to 15 participants to allow for immediate feedback and continuous program improvement. Facilitators begin each session with an energy efficiency and operations and maintenance quiz, which is repeated at the end of the training to measure participants’ knowledge. Key aspects of developing the sustainability training module were:

  • Model it upon existing administrative training modules familiar to all employees.
  • Integrate it into an existing employee educational program.
  • Emphasize its importance to the company.
  • Develop customized materials to keep subject matter relevant.
  • Train all staff members.
  • Review all materials before and after every session.
  • Provide detailed training materials and a manual.
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Outreach

Corcoran has identified Level One and Level Two Mangers and Operations and Maintenance staff as the primary target audience for its energy efficiency module. This group includes approximately 200 senior property managers and select maintenance managers. To date, 70 employees have participated in the first six sessions.

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Tools & Resources

Corcoran Management developed a 148-page Sustainability Training guide that touches upon a wide variety of “green” topics, including a comprehensive review of global, national, and regional initiatives; planning and cost benefit analysis; building systems and corresponding technologies; building science basics; and water efficiency. 

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Outcomes

After delivering the training module six times, Corcoran has noted significant improvements in staff engagement with energy issues. Management and staff communicate more effectively since establishing a common language around energy efficiency, resulting in an increase of identified energy saving opportunities with common area lighting, HVAC system maintenance, and faucet and water fixture performance outpacing all others. Corcoran has realized that a major benefit of the training module is that maintenance staff now understand the importance management places on energy efficiency, which allows them to engage in meaningful conversations about the subject matter. In addition, the maintenance staff is using their new knowledge by suggesting energy saving opportunities to management. The module has equipped both management and maintenance staff to work together in designing and implementing efficiency upgrades to Corcoran’s building portfolio. Module participants have provided positive feedback thus far.

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Measuring Success

The success of this training program can be measured in several ways:

  • Increased staff engagement in identifying energy saving opportunities.
  • Improved staff vocabulary and awareness of energy issues.
  • Improved working relationship between management and maintenance staff.
  • Regular feedback in reports from WegoWise benchmarking service.

Corcoran Management continues working with its operations and maintenance staff to administer and improve its Sustainability Training program. In addition, the organization plans to institute a continuing education program to address new technologies and maintenance schedules as they are adopted across the portfolio.

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Type of Tool: Presentation
A training module on energy efficiency and building operations.